Police were called to the Woodlawn Christian Church Wednesday night to keep the peace between members of the congregation arguing over who runs the West Side church.
Members of the church’s old board, who were ousted in a controversial election late last year, said they were illegally removed from their positions by Steve Huerta, an associate of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
The former board members said Huerta could not have been elected because he is not officially a member of the church, since he did not attend the classes necessary to become a member.
Huerta said he did not have to take classes. Furthermore, the church’s website states membership is recognized after, "accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, baptism, and a commitment to Woodlawn as your church home.”
On Wednesday, Huerta and several members who support him changed the locks on the church in order to keep old board members out.
“The congregation enacted Ecclesiastic tribunal rules where we removed people from our congregation who were not benefiting the congregation and not benefiting the church,” Huerta said.
Huerta also gave members a letter asking them to return their keys and to stay off church property.
Board members said Huerta is trying to bully his way into a leadership role at the church. They claimed he is past due on the payment he owes for the LULAC office space he rents upstairs in the church. They also said he rarely, if ever, attends services at Woodlawn.
Huerta denied those claims and said he is simply ready to move on – with or without the former board members as part of the church’s congregation.
“Our intent as a congregation is to ensure that the good work that could be done here continues to be done here, and that the door is not closed,” Huerta said.
The two sides are scheduled to appear before a Justice of the Peace next week.